This past week I have been working on setting up my home office. My undergrad degree was in Applied Computer Science and a minor in Physics so I still take to the tech world a little bit. So I was installing a wireless network, my work laptop and the family computer. As Balki Bartokomous used to say, it was easy as cake and a piece of pie. Successfully installing some technology is very rewarding and yet there is a dark side of this same force as well. Introduce the new printer...
A gracious and generous friend from Fellowship Nashville bought Jacob's Well a sweet color laser printer which also scans, faxes and gives back massages. Well, maybe I am embellishing a bit...but it is a sweet printer. I unpacked the box, installed a hardware duplexer (both sides of the paper please!) and we were off and running. I plugged in my USB cable to my laptop and viola! Printing in less than 5 minutes...pride cometh before a fall. The printer is also networkable and I wanted to be able to print from our family computer...and from my wireless network anywhere in the house. Part II of my printer installation experience took 5 hours.
So I followed instructions installing a wireless network card into the printer - pretty simple. Then ran the install stuff and unplugged...nothing. Then I spent a good few hours reading a fat manual and trying different methods of installation. Finally, I did the unthinkable - I called Dell Tech Support. For about an hour I did exactly what the guy said, which was stuff I already had tried - which did nothing but make me feel less stupid. Then we gave the printer a permanent IP address (something I think the Dell install manual should tell you to do, but I digress) and thought we had made it. Nope. Anyway, the install routine was not giving it a TCP/IP port in Windows - we went in and added a port and finally...printing again. The Dell guy was cool and very helpful - but it took time and a bit of perseverance.
In going through this joyous process I realized how my life centers around getting stuff to "work right." I want my marriage to work right, my kids to work right, my body to work right, my work to work right and of course, my newfangled techno-gadgets to work right. Yet I keep running into this problem - things can and do go "wrong." So for me, my entangled battle with a printer is an echo of the running battle that all people face living outside of Eden.
- We want the world to be rational and moral...and it is, well, sometimes
- We want things to go well...and they don't, and do...sometimes
- We want to control things...and we can...sometimes, but then realize it is an illusion...well, sometimes
- We want life to be easier, but it is hard
- We want joy to flow from all our possessions and trappings - and it doesn't
- We want life to be full and sometimes it is boring and mundane
- We think sex, food and new experiences will fix it all - and we are perplexed when they don't
So it seems to me that there are two ways you can look at this world, both based on the reality of our mingled existence...that there is a real experience of joy, goodness, truth, love and beauty and an equal amount of despondency, evil, deception, guile and ugliness. When we run into this reality all the time. It is why we get drunk.
So my question is this: What more defines your world? Brokenness or Beauty, Harmony or Havoc?
- You can see the world as a random place of chaos where death and survival are the only laws of the jungle. In this view love is accidental (not essential) and pain would seem essential.
- You can see this as a world of purpose and order where truth, purpose and goodness govern the universe. In this view chaos/evil are accidental (not essential, even alien) and love/goodness is essential.
It is my contention that we all long for goodness and love and think the world ought to be a more hospitable place. In other words, we think existence is a good thing but there is stuff going awfully wrong - like my printer. We hope, love, dream, desire and ache for another place. As CS Lewis once rightly wrote in his classic Mere Christianity: "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
So my printer now prints...and is filled with awesomeness...but it doesn't yet scan on the network...and the control panel seems to have an admin password that I neither asked for or assigned. So it seems like technology bliss and banality both remain ahead. Likewise, my life will likely continue to travel roads that are mingled as well. I know I will need to choose to follow God tomorrow and love my neighbor as myself. I know that I must resist the dark paths that emerge from my own soul and choose to stay close to Jesus. I need to find his grace in my failures and new hope tomorrow. I need him to teach me that God is good and governing the chaos and some day the alien darkness will lift from his world. To think otherwise is to give way to a view of life that is less human...and certainly not from God.